By David Climer
The Nashville Tennessean
October 7, 2011
Be a pro — Know what to do and do it
Mike Munchak can drop a lot of football terms and can school us on Xs and Os, but his philosophy as an NFL head coach pretty much boils down to those words.
“I want our identity tied into that,” he said. “We know what to do and we go do that on Sundays.”
With that in mind, I’d be very surprised if you see Terrible Towel 2.0 out of the Titans, regardless of what direction the game at Heinz Field might take.
“That’s not something I’m concerned about with this group,” Munchak said.
This would not be out of fear of the Curse of the Terrible Towel, although it must be noted that the Titans went 0-8 — a loss in the final game of the regular season, a playoff loss and a 0-6 start in ’09 — after the supposed desecration of the Pittsburgh’s version of the Shroud of Turin in that December ’08 game at LP Field.
Rather, it’s just not Munchak’s style. He was born and raised old-school. And if a guy from Scranton, Pa., can’t get his team to understand the Steelers’ place in football history, who can?
“We’re very respectful of what they’ve accomplished in a big way, the championships they’ve won,” he said.
Some see his approach as businesslike. Others see it as downright dull. Really, now, what did you expect?
Long before Peter King of Sports Illustrated christened him Coach of the Quarter after the Titans’ 3-1 start, Munchak’s football reputation was built upon the grunt work of the offensive line, first as a Hall of Fame player, then as a position coach.
Productive offensive line play is built around teamwork, communication and sacrificing yourself and any individual glory for the good of the cause.
In Munchak’s perfect world, that’s the identity this Titans team would assume. He uses the term “work in progress,” but you get the sense that Munchak is steering the team in that direction — and the players are following his lead.
Safety Michael Griffin notes there are “no big names on this defense,” but that hasn’t kept the Titans from leading the NFL with the fewest points allowed through four games.
Likewise, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is quick to credit other elements of the offense for his fast start.
Even Chris Johnson, who in the past too often talked about his own yardage totals, now toes the party line.
“I’m just still working and trying to get better,” Johnson said after his first 100-yard game of the season — and since receiving his huge payday — against the Browns.
Of course, that doesn’t mean this team lacks personality. Shaun Smith drew some chuckles from the media on Wednesday with his unprompted “guarantee” that Chris Johnson would rush for 100 yards against the Steelers.
Easy for him to say. Smith is a defensive tackle.
Funny, but I didn’t hear Michael Roos or Jake Scott — or Johnson, for that matter — guaranteeing triple digits.
David Climer’s columns appear on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. Contact him at 615-259-8020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 02: Head coach Mike Munchak of the Tennessee Titans looks at the scoreboard against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)